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date: 21 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Rhetoric was aimed at textual composition, but literary criticism was also always part of its remit. This chapter surveys the application of rhetorical thought to textual interpretation in the Middle Ages. This process was important for the interpretation of Scripture as well as literary works. The chapter considers the intersections between invention and hermeneutics, the relevance of theories of arrangement to analysis of narrative structure, and how rhetorical theories of genre and style (including figurative language) were transplanted into interpretive contexts. The chapter engages closely with the classical tradition, especially Ciceronian works, in order to demonstrate the value of classical thought for medieval theorists and literary exegetes. It explores the critical dimensions of the preceptive rhetorics of the Middle Ages, and it also considers how scholastic philosophy absorbed the rhetorical tradition and contributed to literary thought. Major medieval authors considered include Augustine, Geoffrey of Vinsauf, and Dante.

Keywords: rhetoric, literary criticism, Scripture, invention, hermeneutics, arrangement, narrative, genre, style, figurative language

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